June 22, 2005

Neocons Lie About PBS...on PBS

I saw this interview on Lehrer last night, another one of those with an interviewer, a neocon nut job, and a moderate.  The interview, on PBS, revolved around PBS, its funding and whether or not it was worth having around.  The guests (as you already know if you clicked above) were George Neumayr, executive editor of the American Spectator Magazine and neocon nutjob extraordinare, and KCPT in Kansas City President and C.E.O. Bill Reed.

The gall  of the neo-con was in clear view, but what was most intriguing was the absolute idiocy of his attack.  If anything, his ridiculous theatrics would only embolden the viewers.  One of the more telling exchanges is quoted en masse below, and links to all the relevant information to show just how ... relevant, PBS is today.

JEFFREY BROWN: Sorry, I was going to ask the broader question, because some people have raised whether there is a role for public broadcasting at all today.

GEORGE NEUMAYR: Well, I think the question should be raised. Why are the American people financing with their tax dollars programming that offends them? Why are they picking up the tab for Bill Moyers? I've never heard a good answer to that question.


BILL REED: You know, Bill Moyers is -- Bill Moyers is not even on the air anymore, and you keep saying, you know, Pick up the tab for this liberal broadcasting network, when study after study has shown otherwise, and you can't put anything forward except your opinion about --

GEORGE NEUMAYR: Well, study after study shows the American people aren't watching PBS.

BILL REED: No, that's not true. At any given night, all the 500 channels you talk about on cable if you want to measure any one of those channels against public broadcasting, you'll see their audiences are minuscule.

But let me answer the question about why we need public broadcasting. I think if you ask parents of young children that question they'd give you a lot of reasons. We still have the best non-commercial, nonviolent, educational children's programming anywhere on television.

And secondly, in our prime-time schedules and our public affairs -- including Now -- Frontline may be the best documentary series on television ever, American Experience, this program - the NewsHour - Nature, Nova, all these programs, you cannot find them anywhere else on the commercial dial. But let me tell you one other thing that makes us distinctive from all the other program services.

They do not have a presence in Kansas City. We are a local community asset. We provide programs and services to the community -- for example, we serve 200,000 K-12 students in Kansas and Missouri. We have a collaborative effort with nine area colleges and universities that result in 50,000 people getting distance education every year.

We're currently doing a demonstration with data-casting with our digital transmitter, with homeland security. And you don't have enough time on this program for me to tell you all the other local programs and services we have here. Those are big reasons why this country still needs public broadcasting.

In addition, I couldn't find a good link to this information, so I will post it here piecemeal.  

The total viewer numbers for the evening news...

A description of PBS viewership...


The audience trends for the The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, which started in 1973 as The Robert MacNeil Report and later became the half-hour MacNeil/Lehrer Report, stand in striking contrast to those of commercial network television. Data published in the PBS National Audience Handbook show that NewsHour ratings were remarkably stable over the five years from 1998 to 2003, averaging a 1.2 household rating. According to PBS, that translates to roughly 2.7 million viewers each weeknight and more than 8 million different or "unduplicated" viewers who watch at least one night a week.15 That is still significantly smaller than even third-place CBS. But the NewsHour's ability to hold its audience distinguishes it in network nightly news.


At a time when Nightline and other magazine programs are having difficulty, and commercial nightly newscasts are hemorrhaging audience, the NewsHour's numbers suggests a health that is unusual.

June 21, 2005

Is Charles Taylor Responsible for Slashing NPR and PBS?

The House has just voted to slash Public Broadcasting funding by $100 million, which is 25% of the total funding. This cut is MUCH larger than the cuts that are occurring in other areas of the budget, and as such represent a partisan attack against our national broadcasting system.
No other station has educational programs for your children, especially without the constant advertising breaks that destroy their ability to focus and learn.

For WUNC, the loss would amount to $400,000 less in CPB grants, general manager Joan Siefert Rose said. That represents 6 percent to 7 percent of the station's budget.

Rose said conversion to digital programming as well as capital improvements to the station probably would feel the biggest pinch. Spokespeople for the Triangle's other NPR affiliates, WSHA and WNCU, could not be reached for comment.

UNC-TV would lose $750,000 in CPB grants, spokesman Steve Volstad said.

Volstad said the station would also lose $60,000 in "Ready to Learn" program funding. The funds pay outreach workers to travel around the state and educate day care workers on how best to use UNC-TV as an educational tool.

North Carolina Representative David Price condemned these actions, however his counterpart on the committee, Republican Charles Taylor did nothing to end the cuts.

UPDATE: Funding for PBS has been added back to the budget by a bi-partisan vote of 284-140. Bipartisan everywhere but in North Carolina. Right-wing(nut) Howard Coble was the only Republican to cross party lines and vote for restoring Public Broadcasting.

Don't fall for Charles Taylor's new act as Moderate voice, he remains a right-wing(nut) Neocon who votes lock-step with Tom DeLay and his master Grover Norquist.

June 20, 2005

Who is Bill Faison, and when did he become a Republican?

I was just reading through a legislative roundup over at the Raleigh News & Observer, when I noticed something unsettling.

Bill Faison (D) from Orange County voted against EVERY Democratic agenda item mentioned, and WITH the Republicans on every item. The Democratic voters are italicized.

STATE BUDGET ACT (Senate Bill 622, House Version): Makes base budget appropriations of $17.1 billion for current operations of state departments, institutions and agencies. Introduced by Sen. Linda Garrou, D-Forsyth. Adopted 62-58. Returned to the Senate for concurrence.

VOTING YES: Bernard Allen (D-Wake), Lucy Allen (D-Franklin, Halifax, Nash), Linda Coleman (D-Wake), Joe Hackney (D-Orange, Chatham, Moore), Verla Insko (D-Orange), Paul Luebke (D-Durham), Grier Martin (D-Wake), Mickey Michaux (D-Durham), Paul Miller (D-Durham), Deborah Ross (D-Wake), Jennifer Weiss (D-Wake), W.A. "Winkie" Wilkins (D-Durham, Person)

VOTING NO: Russell Capps (R-Wake), Leo Daughtry (R-Johnston), Nelson Dollar (R-Wake), Rick Eddins (R-Wake), Bill Faison (D-Orange, Caswell), James Langdon Jr. (R-Johnston, Sampson), Paul Stam (R-Wake)

* BUDGET AMENDMENT NO. 6: Eliminates additional funding for the Global Transpark through 2007. Offered by Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake. Failed 37-82.

VOTING YES: Capps, Dollar, Eddins, Faison, Martin, Stam

VOTING NO: Bernard Allen, Lucy Allen, Coleman, Daughtry, Hackney, Insko, Langdon, Luebke, Michaux, Miller, Ross, Weiss, Wilkins

* BUDGET AMENDMENT NO. 9: Provides funding to counties to offset their share of Medicaid expenditures. Offered by Rep. Julia Howard, R-Davie. Failed 58-61.

VOTING YES: Capps, Daughtry, Dollar, Eddins, Faison, Langdon, Miller, Stam

VOTING NO: Bernard Allen, Lucy Allen, Coleman, Hackney, Insko, Luebke, Martin, Michaux, Ross, Weiss, Wilkins

So, who is Bill Faison and exactly why is he a Democrat? I can understand ONE vote here or there, but all of these votes? Isn't he also the man who was behind restructuring Orange County's Commission without the input of the county itself? A restructuring that would lead to more Republican input in the county? If Bill Faison wants to jump ship and become a Republican, more power to him, but he is obviously not a Democrat.

June 08, 2005

Last Undecided Race in America - Welcome to Carolina

--posted at Kos as well--
The Republicans may have given up in Washington State, but they are still at it in North Carolina.  NC has an elected position for Superintendent of Public Institutions.  In the last election, the race was won by Democrat June Atkinson, but 11,000 provisional ballots have been the cause of a long drawn-out court case that continues today.

What is most interesting about this case is that because of the battle, the position has had almost all of its power stripped away and there is talk that it should be abolished.  The Republican Supreme Court sided with the Republican that 11,000 ballots from a Democratic County should be thrown out, while the Democratic General Assembly passed a law that voided that ruling.

This is why all politics begins at the grassroots, this could be a Senator race that we are talking about instead of a Super race.  It could be Erskine Bowles instead of Aaron Burr Richard Burr that we were picking in this election.  We've seen how county commissions rob us of elections when they are controlled by Republicans, and how Republican school boards throw out junk science (Evolution) while focusing on good science (Creationism).  Is there any doubt that your Republican dog-catcher would rather kill your lost dog as a stray than cost the county money feeding and keeping it healthy?  No position too small, no cause too great.

Bill Fletcher and June Atkinson are still fighting over who won the race for State superintendent of public instruction.

Now some lawmakers say neither one should be elected.

The say the position, charged with making sure North Carolina students are learning, has little power and should be taken off the ballot and eliminated or appointed by the Governor. (link)

RALEIGH - The school year is ending, Election Day was seven months ago, and the race for N.C. school superintendent has yet to be decided.

A legal battle is raging over at least 11,000 provisional ballots, leaving the superintendent's job the last statewide or federal post in the nation on last fall's ballot to be filled...Democrat June Atkinson, a former schoolteacher, has scolded Republican Bill Fletcher for keeping her from taking office.

"He has shown a disrespect for North Carolina's children by denying the inevitable and being a sore loser," Atkinson said. "Bill Fletcher has failed to use two important words that should be in his vocabulary -- `I concede.' "

Fletcher, who trails by 8,535 votes out of more than 3.3 million cast, does not apologize for a legal fight that even has some fellow Republicans privately questioning why the election has dragged on.

"We filed this protest based on principle and the principles haven't changed," Fletcher said. "We've never dreamed it would go on this long."

In Washington state, where a courtroom dispute is under way over GOP allegations of fraud and bungling, Democratic Gov. Christine Gregoire still managed to take office in January. She was pronounced the winner by 129 votes out of 2.9 million cast.

But Atkinson was never sworn in. The N.C. Supreme Court blocked her inauguration even though the State Board of Elections declared her the winner in late November.

The superintendent's race could finally end in the coming weeks. A panel in the Democratic-controlled legislature is collecting evidence, and the outcome of the contest will be voted on by the whole General Assembly, which under the state constitution has the authority to decide disputed elections.

Fletcher's beef primarily involves provisional ballots cast outside a voter's precinct. These ballots, which historically have favored Democrats in North Carolina, are included in the current vote totals. Fletcher has consistently said state law does not permit them to be counted.

The state Supreme Court, on which the Republicans hold a majority, agreed with Fletcher in February. But the General Assembly -- where 92 of the 170 seats are held by Democrats -- passed a law that essentially voided the ruling and intends to pick a winner itself.

Fletcher argues the legislature's actions are a power grab by the Democrats. But the state Supreme Court has declined to get involved further. (link)

June 07, 2005

A Wallis Quote Transmogrified, Reclaiming Democrats

I have been reading God's Politics by Jim Wallis recently.  I came across the following passage:

The root of the terror attacks is not a yearning for economic justice for the poor and oppressed of the world.  It is motivated rather by the ambition of a perverted religious fundamentalism for regional and global power; one that rejects the values of liberty, equality, democracy, and human rights.

What struck me is how this quote could be slightly changed to describe the Republican party here in America.

The root of the Republican law making is not a yearning for economic justice for the poor and oppressed of the world.  It is motivated rather by the ambition of a perverted religious fundamentalism for regional and global power; one that rejects the values of liberty, equality, democracy, and human rights.

This weekend I heard two young politicos bemoaning that if we could just get the facts out there, people would vote for Democrats.  I am no longer under the illusion that this will sway the voters.  I believe there is only 6% of the population that is not dedicated to one party or another, and perhaps only 1% of these actually make up their minds based on hard facts.  

However, I am left to wonder if there exists a large population of former Democrats that could be wooed back to the light.  In other words, can we move people from the hardcore Republican group into the hardcore Democratic group?  I think we can, and you might be surprised who they are.

Jim Wallis and the left-wing evangelical movement is sloughing off support from the radical right-wing evangelicals, which is where many of our former Democrats have fallen.  There is a core of evangelicals that are not just serving their immoral, earthly masters (Dobson), but whom are focused on the common good.  These people are the ones who are reachable, that care about what Christianity actually speaks to, compassion and caring for our fellow man.  Not same-sex marriage.  

This wing of our party could end up being a major factor in winning the next election.  But, just as importantly, it provides us with insights on how to win back voters that have become dissatisfied with the Democratic Party.  Impossible?  In a day and age when the war and House Ethics rules are being denounced by North Carolina's own Freedom Freak Walter Jones, anything is possible.